Supremacism: it is the ideology behind stripping someone of their naturalness, and forcing them to assimilate to your own. Basically, it’s saying “I’m better than you,” or “my way, or the highway.”
This ideology is deeply rooted in racial tension throughout history and, although the oppressed have tried to overcome this struggle, the fight still continues.
Recently in South Africa, hundreds of students began protesting against the ban of their natural hair in school. These students were told to straighten their hair because “it looks untidy.” https://twitter.com/i/moments/770720460140974080 Some were even forced out of class and given vaseline because their hair was “preventing other students from learning.”
As I saw the images of girls with skin color and hair texture like my own, crying and protesting to keep their natural hair, I was baffled. After all these years battling for our civil rights, little has fundamentally changed in our social lives.
It is ridiculous that in 2016, after numerous advancements in all aspects of life, anything black is belittled and forced to undergo changes in order to be accepted. Recently, black women hair has been the target of many social media trolls.
Four time gold medalist Gabby Douglas was targeted on social media during the 2016 Olympics, not only for choosing to stand at ease during the national anthem, but mainly for her “untidy looking hair” during the competition. Black hair is a significant part of the aesthetics of black culture and as a black girl, I couldn’t be more proud of its versatility.
I love having the choice to wear my hair in any style I desire. From Afros to cornrows, box braids and beautiful bouncy curls, these hairstyles are cherished, rooting from our African ancestors.
While these hairstyles are beloved by African Americans and often appropriated by other races, Gabby’s natural hair came under attack simply because people didn’t think it looked pretty.
Interestingly, out of the hundreds of girls that competed with her, she was the only one that was forced to pay extra attention to her hair, because of her race. While the demographics of the attackers varied, it made me the saddest to read the backlash that came from her own black community, also famously known as black Twitter. The lack of interdependence only fuels oppression.
As a fellow black girl, I empathized with Gabby because I also struggle to keep up with my natural hair. It takes effort, time and patience to manage natural hair. Gabby could not afford to spend such time on her hair. As if spinning, twirling, and making splits on a four inch beam wasn’t enough, she was expected to perform all that magic while making sure her hair looked “presentable” to the world. Crazy.
At only two-years-old, Beyoncé’s daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, also came under attack for her natural hair. People on social media demanded for Beyoncé to take better care of her daughter’s hair because it looked as if it was not washed or combed regularly. This infuriated me because not only were people attacking a defenseless toddler, they were also making the assumption that her natural hair was dirty and untidy just based on its appearance.
Black men who wear dreadlocks are also assumed to be violent and have bad odor, but interestingly, when a non black person like Kylie Jenner or Miley Cyrus attach fake dreadlocks to their hair, it is labeled “fun, cool and stylish” by fashion magazines such as Teen Vogue and Cosmopolitan. On the other hand when a fellow star, Zendaya Coleman, wears the same hairstyle, E! News correspondent Giuliana Rancic commented that “she looks like she smells like weed.”While I have no problem with other races trying out hairstyles from different cultures, I don’t appreciate seeing black people being shamed and attacked for their naturalness.
The South African students, Gabby Douglas, and Blue Ivy are beautiful black girls and the conscious effort to try and lower their self esteem is not only petty, but also racist.
No other race gets attacked on their physical characteristics more than black people. Our skin color, hair textures and facial features are constantly insulted, and any attempt to defend yourself will label you a mad black person.
So to whomever this may concern, no, black people are not mad. They are just asking to wear their hair however their heart desires without offending or scaring anyone. That’s not too much to ask for.
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